Monday, March 14, 2011

Dalglish Predicts Euro Comeback

Liverpool might have lost away to Braga in the first leg of the Europa Cup round of 16, but manager Kenny Dalglish believes they will make a comeback in the second leg.

"At 1-0 we're still in it,” he said. “But if we play like that at Anfield we have no chance. The way we started the first 35 minutes was terrible.

“You don’t know if it is a good result or bad result until the second leg.”

The legendary manager for Liverpool says Andy Carroll might be the key to a successful second leg match. “We looked a lot more threatening when Andy came on. He is a good option for us.”

The second half was also promising for Liverpool, with the side at least showing potential to beat their opposition. "To give the lads credit, they picked things up and raised the tempo and with a bit of luck we could have got an equalizer,” Dalglish said.

Liverpool went to Portugal as favourites to take down Braga, who are currently 6th on the Liga Sagres table. Andy Carroll made his European debut for the side as a substitute, coming on in the 57th minute.

While Braga coach Domingos Paciencia’s side now holds the lead in the cup tie, he is still remaining very cautious about what can happen in the second leg at Anfield. "I am optimistic but I know Liverpool is a big team, one of the teams who can win the competition so we have to be very careful."

Lucas Calls For Carroll Patience

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva insists it is unfair to heap unrealistic expectations on club record signing Andy Carroll.

The £35million January arrival from Newcastle has made just two substitute appearances, totalling 49 minutes, in the last week having finally recovered from a thigh injury which has sidelined him since December 28.

Already in those short spells the 22-year-old has given a glimpse of what he can offer Liverpool in the future, with his aerial power and hold-up play something the team have been lacking for several seasons.

But Lucas believes people should not expect Carroll to come in and improve Liverpool's fortunes overnight, even though it was he who provided the change of gear when he came on in the second half of the 1-0 Europa League last-16 first leg defeat in Braga.

"Andy won every single ball in the air and that gave us a chance to step up," said the Brazil midfielder.

"He provides another option because as well as being able to play on the ground we have a target man who can hold the ball and score goals.

"We are happy with what he did against Braga but he has been out for a few months and it would be unfair to put any pressure on him."

Lucas was frustrated by the result in Portugal which ended their 12-match unbeaten run in Europe this season but is confident they will turn it around next Thursday.

"We are disappointed with the result but I think we can change it at Anfield," he added.

"I think we knew it would be a difficult game because Braga beat Arsenal at home as well.

"We couldn't hold the ball as we would like and we were maybe defending more but aside from the penalty (for the goal) they did not have many clear-cut chances.

"We had chances to score but unfortunately we didn't. Now at Anfield we have to make sure we score more goals and get through to the next round."

Skrtel Relieved To Avoid Carroll

Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel thinks rival Premier League defenders will now share the fear that he experienced when facing Andy Carroll.

Newcastle received £35million on January's transfer deadline day as their former No.9 moved to Anfield and became the most expensive British footballer in history.

Liverpool signed Carroll, 22, as a replacement for Fernando Torres, who joined Chelsea, and a partner for fellow January arrival Luis Suarez.

Carroll's record-breaking fee was somewhat of a shock, but Skrtel was not surprised after enduring a torrid evening against his new team-mate in December when the England international scored in Newcastle's convincing 3-1 win.

Slovakia defender Skrtel told Liverpool's official website: "I remember this game and it was very difficult for us defenders because he is a great player.

"He's strong and a big lad and it's very difficult to play against him.

"Now I am happy he is in our team. It's good to have a player like him in our team.

"He's definitely one of the toughest strikers I've played against in the Premier League. He's strong, he is good with his head and he can keep the ball.

"I don't know how defenders will feel but they could be scared because Carroll and Suarez is a very strong forward line."

Balazs Dzsudzsak Could Be The Answer To Liverpool's Left Midfield Problems's Stefan Coerts believes that PSV winger Balazs Dzsudzsak is ready for the next step in his career and could the answer to the problems Liverpool has on the left wing.

When PSV announced the capture of Balazs Dzsudzsak from Debreceni in October 2007, most followers of the Dutch game weren't too impressed. He had by then already made his debut for Hungary's senior side, but was still relatively unknown to the mainstream.

Dzsudzsak didn't need long to make an impact though as he quickly developed into an important first team member at the club. The left footer made his official PSV debut in the 1-0 win over Feyenoord in January 2008 and eventually netted three goals in 17 Eredivisie appearances to help his side to the Dutch title in his first season in the Netherlands.

From there on, the Hungary international has become integral for PSV, scoring 42 goals in 107 Eredivisie appearances to date, and has been one of the most efficient players around in the Dutch league in recent years.

The Debrecen native has become a star name at Philips Stadium this year and aside from scoring 14 goals and giving 12 assists in the Eredivisie, Dzsudzsak has also been PSV's standout player in the Europa League.

His good performances have not gone unnoticed elsewhere and he has been linked with clubs such as Atletico Madrid, Lille, Juventus and Liverpool in the past couple of months. A January transfer seemed to be on the cards for Dzsudzsak, but he instead decided to sign a contract extension until the summer of 2015.

Dzsudzsak's contract renewal hasn't scared off potential suitors though as Liverpool in particular is still closely monitoring his performances. Liverpool is desperate to add a new left midfielder to their squad in the summer transfer window and the PSV star looks like the perfect candidate.

Liverpool is expected to make a move for a left winger in the summer transfer window. They have not only been linked with Dzsudzsak in recent weeks, but also with Aston Villa attacker Ashley Young. However, the England international won't be available on the cheap and Liverpool is unlikely to pay over €25 million again after this winter's spending spree, making Dzsudzsak their top target.

Dzsudzsak himself recently declared that he wasn't interested in leaving PSV during the winter transfer window as he was not done learning yet in Holland. Nevertheless, he might be underestimating himself. The 24-year-old is not getting any serious opposition in the Eredivisie and needs to move on if he's to continue developing into a better player. Dzsudzsak has all the right attributes to succeed in a bigger league and he would become a starter at Liverpool.

Even though Dzsudzsak has only just signed a new deal without a minimum fee release clause, there's little doubt that PSV would allow him to move on if the price is right. Sporting director Marcel Brands has verbally agreed not to frustrate a potential move to England, Germany, Italy or Spain and it's very much likely that the Eredivisie will lose its third star player in the space of six months after the departures of Ibrahim Afellay to Barcelona and Luis Suarez to Liverpool.

Sylvain Marveaux Is 'Quick And Powerful Like Florent Malouda'

Rennes midfielder Sylvain Marveaux has been linked with a move to Liverpool since the end of last year. This weekend, the 24-year-old claimed that he was 'very close' to signing an agreement to join Kenny Dalglish at Anfield this summer.

The former France under-21 international is valued at £7 million but is out of contract at the end of the season.'s Ligue 1 expert Robin Bairner shares his insight into the player who might well be playing in front of the Kop next year.

Can he succeed in England?
Players coming out of Ligue 1 tend to be fairly well suited for the Premier League because they are used to playing in a physical environment on a regular basis, so Marveaux would stand a good chance of adapting to life in England. He has been compared before to Florent Malouda. He's technical and strong, but above all, he's quick and powerful. These are all attributes that would suggest he can be successful in England.

How important is he for Rennes?
Marveaux is a player that could potentially be very important to Rennes, but injuries have really prevented him from developing into a top star for them. Indeed, he's not played for Frederic Antonetti's men since the winter break due to a hamstring complaint. Marveaux started the season by picking up a problem on the opening day, but after a month out he became a central figure in the club's positive form. A groin problem in November has ended his season, with only 10 games played and one goal scored. In truth, Rennes have already learned to live without him, with players such as Yacine Brahimi and Jires Kembo-Ekoko - raw but exciting - coming through their ranks.

International class?
He has played for the French under-21 side but is now 24 and is yet to make his debut for the national team. Quite simply, it is because of injuries. He's always been susceptible to strains, missing the European under-19 championships in 2005 due to knee ligament damage. This unwelcome characteristic was most notable during 2008-09, when he missed virtually the whole campaign due to a torn hamstring, playing only the first two games and three of the last four. Though he was highly impressive when he was on the field, clearly his long-term development was hampered, harming his potential to play at the very top level. His natural flair and physical attributes are enough to get by in the domestic game, but with more reliable options out there, he's not been drafted into the France squad yet. Could he be in the future? Potentially, but he'd have to stay fit.

The decent crosser that Liverpool need?
While Marveaux is a wide player, he's featured mainly as one of new breed of wingers who like to be played on the opposite flank, allowing them to cut inside and shoot. Marveaux's skills tend to be in beating players rather than providing quality into the box from a wide area.

Interesting facts?
His brother is Joris, a central midfielder for Montpellier. He played with Yoann Gourcuff in Rennes' youth academy.

Liverpool Boss Plans Progression Of Potential Stars

Kenny Dalglish has insisted that the FA Youth Cup result against Manchester United is less important than the players progressing.

The two rivals met in the quarter-finals of the U18 competition yesterday, and whilst bragging rights could be a factor, it's not the most important thing for the Liverpool boss.

"It's a fantastic day for the kids to be playing at Anfield once again, particularly against Manchester United, whose youth system has been fantastically successful for them over the years," Dalglish told the official Liverpool website.

"Their principle has been the same as ours: it doesn't matter if you don't win the FA Youth Cup, it's about getting players through."

The U18 side has been earning rave reviews this term, and smashed Southend United for nine in an earlier round of the junior competition.

Skipper Conor Coady and wing wizard Raheem Sterling are just two of the young players who have found themselves involved with the first team squad this season, and whilst winning the competition is important for King Kenny, it's not the key factor.

"It's great that we're in it and it's special for the lads because it's the Cup. It's not just the first team who has competition with Manchester United - it's all levels, but we'd sacrifice the Youth Cup to get that number and quality of players," said the boss when referring to the 'golden era' of the Red Devils.

Liverpool vs Manchester United Youth Tie Marred By Hillsborough Abuse

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge has branded the Manchester United fans who sang vile chants about the Hillsborough and Heysel disasters at yesterday's Youth Cup tie at Anfield as "disgusting".

Three United fans were arrested and six ejected from the ground during the match, which the visitors won 3-2 from 2-0 down with both sides having a pair of players sent off.

"I have never seen anything like that before at a youth game and I never want to see anything like it again. It was disgusting," said Aldridge, who was in the team at Hillsborough when 96 Liverpool fans died in 1989.

"You get used to banter from United’s fans when they come to Anfield but to hear those songs about Heysel and Hillsborough was just horrible.

Aldridge added in the Liverpool Echo: "The level of abuse was absolutely sickening.

"There was evidently a group who had just come to cause problems and I felt sorry for the families in the Manchester United end who just wanted to watch a game of football."

Study Shows That Liverpool Is Top City For Football Talent

The Premier League has not exactly been a golden age for either Liverpool or Everton.

While the Anfield outfit has twice finished runners-up since the rebranding of the top flight in 1992, the best their Goodison neighbours have managed during the last 19 years is fourth place.

It’s a far cry from the 1980s when Merseyside ruled the roost. But there is one league table in which the city can still claim to be champions.

A recent study has discovered the city of Liverpool has produced more top-flight footballers than any other English provincial city during the Premier League era.

The tally of 62 players who have gone on to appear in the elite division of English football betters the 55 from second-placed Birmingham and the 42 who have come from down the East Lancs Road in Manchester.

Players such as former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler, Everton defender Tony Hibbert, Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and Newcastle United midfielder Kevin Nolan are among those to have emerged from the city.

Boffins at the Cambridge-based website, who use specially-designed software to search the internet for questions asked by users, analyzed the 1,383 English-born players who have appeared in the Premier League.

Merseyside was ranked third when statistics for counties were assessed, producing 6.59 players per 100,000 of its population, which was less than North Yorkshire (7.69) and leaders County Durham (8.70).

Liverpool may have lost to Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals yesterday, but there is still plenty of encouragement in the Academy ranks on both sides of Stanley Park.

Everton are top of the FA Premier Academy League Group C division with their neighbours in fourth, 10 points behind with three games in hand and a goal difference of 21 which is two more than Everton and considerably better than everyone else in the 10-team North West section.

And Everton Academy coach Neil Dewsnip says: “It is great that the two teams are at the top of their section. It is good for both clubs and the city.

“Hopefully it will carry on to the end of the season. It is not quite the first teams, but it is still good for everyone.”

On Liverpool having produced the most Premier League players, Dewsnip adds: “It is massive pat on the back to the raw quality here. And also a good sign for both clubs and Tranmere as well.

“Football is a big part of life here and it is great to see so many doing well. They don’t all make it here, but it shows they get a good grounding and can go elsewhere and still do well.”

The study was headed by TrueKnowledge programmer and Liverpool fan Matthew Mason in response to a conversation with his colleagues one day.

And he agrees with Dewsnip that the fact football plays such a central role in Liverpool city life largely explains why so many footballers emerge from its boundaries, support passed down through the generations.

“That has got a lot to do with it,” says Mason. “If you are a big football fan yourself it has got to be your dreams to have your kids playing for your team.”

Of the idea for the survey, he adds: “It started when we were having a discussion about where the hotbeds of footballing talent were in England.

“I am pleased with the result. I am not too sure that Liverpool can lay much claim to any sort of victory at the moment, but we will take anything we can get.”

To ensure a fair comparison, only footballers born within the boundaries of the City of Liverpool were included in its total, and not those from neighbouring Merseyside boroughs such as Sefton, St Helens or Knowsley, which meant the likes of Kirkby-born Leighton Baines and Billinge-born Leon Osman did not count towards the city’s total.

Surprisingly, Liverpool’s Scouse heartbeat of Jamie Carragher (born in Bootle, which is in Sefton) and Steven Gerrard (born in Whiston and brought up in Huyton, both of which are in Knowsley) are also not included in the city’s 62-player count.

But the same strict boundary rules were applied to Manchester and Birmingham, and were why London – with a population of more than seven million – was broken down into boroughs, the leading of which is Lambeth.

The research also discovered those English counties in the bottom half of the country’s median weekly wage table more often than not produced the most Premier League footballers.

County Durham is one of England’s poorest counties with a median weekly wage of £419.90 – only Cornwall, with £408.60, has a lower figure – Merseyside’s is £452.60.

The exceptions are London and Berkshire, which have both produced a large proportion of top-flight footballers and have higher median weekly wages of £598.20 and £569 respectively.

Simon Chadwick, professor of sport business strategy and marketing at Coventry University, believes there could be two main reasons for Berkshire’s appearance in the top 10 – despite npower Championship side Reading, who have spent just two years in the English football’s top-flight in their 140-year history, being the county’s only professional football club.

“One explanation for this could be that football has much broader appeal and reach than might have been the case in previous decades,” says Chadwick.

“It may nevertheless also indicate that Premier League football is becoming a career option and a sport that is potentially appealing much more to a middle-class audience.

“As such, one might conclude that the socio-demographic composition of Premier League players has changed somewhat over the last two decades.”

Without putting any restrictions on the data, London (322 players) comes out as the county where most Premier League players have been born, with Greater Manchester (115) second and West Midlands (96) third.

And founder, William Tunstall-Pedoe, says: “If our data helps Premier League scouts uncover the next generation of Rooneys, Gerrards and Beckhams and years from now England win the World Cup thanks in some small part to our data, it would be fantastic.”

Keegan: Shanks Would Be Loving It

Kevin Keegan believes the legendary Bill Shankly would be delighted to see Kenny Dalglish back at the Liverpool helm.

Keegan was signed by Shankly from Scunthorpe United in 1971 before being replaced as our No.7 by Dalglish following a move to Hamburg six years later.

Few are better placed, then, to comment on what Shankly would make of The King's return.

"Well he'd be delighted to see someone like Kenny Dalglish back there," said Keegan.

"No disrespect to the ones who have been there before him, because Roy Hodgson and Rafael Benitez are good men, but he knows the club just like Bill Shankly knew the club.

"He cares about the club, he knows what it takes, he knows what the people want, you know, and I guess he'd have a good idea of how he can provide that over a period of time.

"He will need time, it's not going to be one of these jobs you're going to step into and solve the problems. You're not going to solve those problems over two or three months."